The Scoundrel's New Con
Catherine Stein, author
He’s pulling the con of a lifetime. Unless she exposes the naked truth. Conman Jack Weaver has his eyes on the prize. The arrogant Earl of Bardrick has offered five thousand pounds to anyone who can prove his castle is haunted. With money like that, Jack can ensure he’ll never end up on the streets or in prison again. And his spirit photography skills are just the trick needed to convince all of the earl’s houseguests to believe in something unseen. Investigative journalist Tess Cochran believes in one thing: the truth. She’s not going to let phony ghosts and trick photographs swindle anyone, even a snobbish aristocrat like Bardrick. And she’s certainly not going to let herself be swayed by Jack Weaver’s charming smile and mischievous antics. When Jack and Tess stumble upon one of the castle’s many secrets, they realize something nefarious lurks behind the earl’s competition. To solve the mystery, these rivals forge a reluctant partnership. As they strip down the facts, Jack and Tess begin to find that the deepest truths may be concealed in their hearts.
Stein (The Potions and Passions series) dives into the world of Victorian spiritualism in this refreshingly original and incandescently clever romance. Plucky investigative reporter Tess Cochran plays the unassuming wallflower in order to dig up dirt for an exposé on the deceitful practices of England’s spiritualists and mediums. But roguish spirit photographer Jack Weaver sees through her act, and he’s determined to stop her from uncovering the tricks he uses to make apparitions appear in his photos. This task becomes harder when the Earl of Bardrick offers an exorbitant prize to any spiritualist who can prove his castle is haunted during a weekslong house party. Naturally, both Tess and Jack attend. The other guests—including Jack’s medium cousin, a bluestocking who takes Tess under her wing, and a duo of gullible lords—form a delightful backdrop for Tess and Jack’s budding romance, which plays out through late night run-ins as they snoop around the castle and in the dark room tutorials Jack gives Tess, proving his talent and love of photography. Along the way, they discover that the biggest con artist of them all may be their host. Flirtatious Jack and discerning Tess could not be any more well matched, and their crackling chemistry should win many fans. This is a charmer. (Self-published)